CHOICE welcomes the Federal Government’s options paper on added sugar today which includes options for strong measures for sugar labelling like visual labelling of teaspoons of sugar on sugar-sweetened beverages.
“For years CHOICE has been calling for added sugar labelling and it’s great to see the Federal Government putting forward options that will allow Australians to make genuinely informed decisions” says CHOICE’s Campaigns and Policy Team Lead, Katinka Day.
“Labelling added sugar in the nutritional information panel and ingredient list is essential. But on top of this we need visual labelling of the amount of teaspoons of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages to help people identify just how much sugar is in these drinks.”
Consumer research shows that Australians want to see added sugar labelling in the nutritional information panel, ingredients list and visually represented as teaspoons of sugar. Showing teaspoons of sugar is especially important for products that are very high in sugar and low in any beneficial nutrients such as sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Some teenagers are consuming 38 teaspoons of added sugar per day, equivalent to the sugar in four cans of Coke.
“It’s essential that we have labelling that allows people to easily identify the high level of sugar in these products, rather than letting companies get away with hiding this information in opaque statements on the back of packets” says Ms Day.
Leading national and international health advice clearly states that people should reduce their intake of added sugars. But current labels in Australia make it nearly impossible to identify how much sugar is added to a product by the manufacturer.
“At the moment you have to be a food scientist to identify added sugars in processed foods. People in Australia have no clear way of knowing how much sugar has been added to a food,” says Ms Day.
The options paper follows continued advocacy from CHOICE and a 2017 report which found that if consumers could identify added sugars on food packs they could avoid 26 teaspoons of sugar each day and up to 38.3 kilograms a year. A decision on sugar labelling sits with State, Territory and Federal Food and Health Ministers who will meet later this year to identify a solution.
“It’s great that we are now discussing potential solutions and we urge Ministers make a decision based on the needs of consumers not junk food companies.”